Tunisia’s Ennahdha Party: A conversation with Monica Marks (S. 5, Ep. 11)

pablo-18On this week’s podcast, Marc Lynch speaks with Monica Marks about Tunisia and the Ennahdha party. Marks is an Oxford PhD candidate, Rhodes Scholar and visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Despite the shift Ennahdha has made from Islamism. Marks argues it is a formalization of already-held beliefs. “Ennahdha has a higher objectives- based view of how religion should inform politics. The idea is that the principles can give shape and purpose to policies but that shari’a and Islam do not offer a policy handbook. This is not a new development for Ennahdha.

“We should questions terms like ‘secularism,’ ‘post-Islamism,’ and ‘Islamism’ itself— and to what extent they really even apply to the actors we look at. Because Ennahdha is inhabiting a politic space where separating religion and politics is not truly possible in the way Western liberals might conceive it.”

Marks says that regional context is important to understanding Ennahdha. “The Egypt coup exacerbated re-exsisting patterns of compromise inside Ennahdha. That’s not to say the coup didn’t have an effect— or wasn’t important— it was. But it didn’t fundamentally change the direction. It just made a lot of people in Ennahdha say, ‘The stakes are even higher. We need to do this.'”

“The real turning point moment in Tunisia that forced the hard-line thinkers in Ennahdha to ride the minimalist train was the twin assassinations of Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi. They sparked off the Bardo crisis of summer 2013 and it really created a huge political crisis, where you had a lot of actors calling for the anti-democratic ouster of Ennahdha.”

“You could argue that the post-Islamist turn happened in the 1980s with Ennahdha. This movement was repeatedly in conversation with opposition movements….it’s important to have a broader contextual view.”

Music for this season’s podcast was created by Feras Arrabi. You can find more of his work on his Facebook and Instagram page.

You can download this week’s podcast on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, follow us on SoundCloud, or listen below:

Read more from Marks:

Did Egypt’s coup teach Ennahda to cede power? July 22, 2016

How big were the changes Tunisia’s Ennahda party just made at its national congress?, May 25, 2016

Ennahda from within: Islamists or “Muslim Democrats”? With Sayida Ounissi, March 23, 2016

Tunisia opts for an inclusive new government, Feb. 3, 2016

How Egypt’s coup really affected Tunisia’s IslamistsMarch 16, 2015
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What did Tunisia’s Nobel laureates actually achieve?, October 27, 2015